Do Popcorn Ceilings Cause Dust?

Popcorn Ceiling Dust

Anyone who has a popcorn ceiling or who has considered adding a popcorn ceiling to their home has probably wondered if popcorn ceilings cause dust. Popcorn ceiling is still found in many homes today, even if it’s not nearly as popular as it used to be. And considering that back in the 70s, the mixture for popcorn ceiling contained asbestos, safety concerns are totally normally.

Do Popcorn Ceilings Cause Dust?

Popcorn ceilings do not cause dust naturally. That is to say, your popcorn ceiling won’t rain down dust on a daily basis. Once the mixture has dried on your ceiling, there’s no way for it naturally produce dust.

However, popcorn ceiling is a magnet for dust. The dust from your house can collect inside the grooves and bumps on your popcorn ceiling, and this dust can fall down over time. The dust particles in the air of your house will stick to your popcorn ceiling and probably get stuck there.

The only way that the actual texture will become loose is if you bump or scrape the surface of the popcorn ceiling. If you accidentally hit your ceiling with something, you will probably break some pieces off. But it definitely won’t happen naturally.

The truth is that whatever kind of ceiling you have, dust will eventually become a problem. Even if you have a smooth painted ceiling, dust particles in the air will eventually get stuck to it unless you do regular maintenance. A textured ceiling just so happens to attract more dust than any other type.

The best way to prevent dust from falling off your ceiling is to keep it clean and well-maintained.

How Do You Get Dust off a Popcorn Ceiling?

To keep your popcorn ceiling clean and free from annoying dust, you need to maintain a regular cleaning schedule. You don’t need to do it every day, you don’t need to do it every week, but do try to take an hour out of every month to make sure your ceiling is clean and free of dust.

The longer you wait to clean your ceiling, the more dust that will accumulate inside of the texture. It’s just inevitable. It’s going to happen. If you’ve never cleaned your popcorn ceiling, the first time that you do, don’t be surprised if you find a significant amount of dust and dirt. The first cleaning is going to be the worst.

The one thing you really need to remember is that popcorn ceiling is fragile. You need to be gentle with your cleaning. Don’t scrub it hard with a cloth. Don’t stab at it with a vacuum. If you hit, bump, or rub your popcorn ceiling, you’re going to break the texture and cause loose particles to fall off. You need to be careful with your ceiling or you’ll have an even worse mess on your hands.

Cleaning Popcorn Ceiling with a Vacuum

You can use a vacuum to clean your popcorn ceiling. This is one of the easiest and most effective ways to do it. You just need to make sure that you use the brush attachment. You don’t want to be pushing at the surface of the ceiling. Simply use the brush attachment to gently vacuum the dust across the entire surface of your ceiling.

Keep in mind that using a vacuum won’t take away the grime that may have accumulated on your ceiling. The only thing the vacuum will do is suck up all the dust.

How to Sweep a Popcorn Ceiling

You can sweep your popcorn ceiling if you don’t want to use a vacuum. The easiest way to do this is with an ordinary broom. Make sure the bristles of your broom are already cleaned and not full of dust, then all you need to do is literally sweep your ceiling. Just be gentle.

You should also wear a mask when sweeping your ceiling. All those dust particles are going to be floating down right into your face. You also want to wear glasses, otherwise you might get some dust in your eyes.

Cleaning Popcorn Ceiling with a Lint Roller

One of the lesser-known methods is to clean your popcorn ceiling using a lint roller. Yes, the same kind of lint roller you would use to get dust and hair off your clothing. This method obviously takes much longer than using a broom or vacuum, but it will prevent dust from falling into your face. All you need to do is roll the lint roller across the entire ceiling, changing the sticky strip whenever it becomes too dusty.

How to Wash a Popcorn Ceiling

if you want to not only get rid of the dust and dirt, but also clean away all the grime and stains, the best thing to do is literally wash your popcorn ceiling. You can do this with a homemade solution of water mixed with dish soap and vinegar.

Keep in mind that you still need to get rid of the loose dust and webs first. Either use the vacuum or the broom, then make your cleaning solution and get ready to scrub.

The first step is to mix your solution of water, dish soap, and vinegar into a spray bottle. Then to clean, you want to use a very soft cloth or a sponge. But you can’t scrub hard. You need to gently dab the surface so that you don’t ruin the texture as you’re cleaning. With a bit of finesse, you can have your popcorn ceiling as white and bright as the day it was first installed.

Is Popcorn Ceiling Dust dangerous?

The biggest concern when it comes to popcorn ceiling dust is that it’s going to be toxic. From between the 1950s to the 1980s, the spray-on-texture used to make popcorn ceilings contained asbestos. Back in those days, asbestos was used in a lot of different building materials. Unfortunately, nobody really knew about the dangers until near the end of the 1970s. By then, hundreds of thousands of houses had already been built using asbestos materials.

So, is your popcorn ceiling dangerous? If your ceiling does indeed contain asbestos, any dust that comes off your ceiling can be considered dangerous. Professionals agree that no amount of asbestos is safe to inhale. It can do some serious damage to your lungs.

Even though popcorn ceiling doesn’t naturally cause dust, if the crumbly material does become dislodged, tiny particles can get stuck in the air. These fibers become airborne and turn into toxic dust that you will inevitably inhale. This is 100% dangerous.

Inhaling asbestos dust can lead to deadly diseases such as lung cancer, mesothelioma, and something called asbestosis.

Should I Remove Popcorn Ceiling?

Yes, popcorn ceiling dust can be dangerous. However, these types of ceilings don’t typically crumble apart for no reason. Living underneath a popcorn ceiling is not going to endanger your health even if it contains asbestos. The only way that asbestos can hurt you is if its fibers find a way into your lungs.

So long as your popcorn ceiling remains undisturbed, there is no chance of being adversely affected by asbestos. If your ceiling is crumbling apart, flaking off in the corners, or is otherwise broken or damaged, then it needs to be removed immediately. If your ceiling has a history of flaking off due to moisture, it’s recommended that you remove your popcorn ceiling immediately.  

It’s important to understand that even just brushing your popcorn ceiling can release toxic asbestos dust. When we say that your popcorn ceiling needs to remain undisturbed, it really does need to remain completely undisturbed. Even the slightest bump can release an invisible cloud of toxic particles that can get you sick.

So, should you remove your popcorn ceiling? If it contains asbestos, you should absolutely replace the ceiling. It’s not worth the risk. At the very least, replace your ceiling using a texture mixture that doesn’t contain asbestos. It will look the same, it will just be safer.

Can I Cover a Popcorn Ceiling?

If you don’t want to go through the hassle of taking down and destroying your popcorn ceiling that contains asbestos, you can do something called encapsulation. This is when you cover the asbestos material so that it can’t release toxic dust. When it comes to popcorn ceiling, you can actually cover the harmful asbestos using ceiling panels or even vinyl paint.

One of the most popular methods is to cover your popcorn ceiling with gypsum board ceiling panels. This is a sort of drywall but much lighter. It’s easy to be screwed into the ceiling and will completely block any asbestos dust from getting into your house.

There is also a special type of vinyl paint that can go over your ceiling to fully trap the asbestos particles. It works as a coating to keep the toxic stuff out, allowing you to breathe safely.

Be sure that if you decide to remove the asbestos in your popcorn ceiling, you call a professional. You should always hire a professional contractor to deal with toxic substances, otherwise you risk harming your lungs. It requires special materials and safety equipment to get rid of asbestos. Plus, if you don’t do it right, you could leave asbestos dust lingering in your house.

Final Thoughts

Asbestos can be found in some popcorn ceilings. It can be dangerous, but it can also be managed with proper care. It’s always better to replace anything that contains asbestos. But if you can’t afford it right now, it’s good to know that your popcorn ceiling isn’t naturally raining down asbestos particles. Just keep it clean, well-maintained, and never try to remove it yourself.


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  • Gregory A Seely
  • Gregory A Seely

    Greg is a self taught home renovator and writer for RenoViso. His shares his experiences with Southern Living, Traditional Home and other publications.

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